Political Asylum

In the United States, it is part of the fabric of our culture to demonstrate a commitment to human rights not only within our borders, but worldwide. Non-citizens who live in fear of having their basic human rights infringed upon may apply for political asylum in the U.S.

In order to be eligible for asylum status, one must have a reasonable fear that they will be persecuted in their home country because of their race; religion; national origin; political opinion; or membership in a particular social group (for example LGBT status individuals, members of certain ethnic or tribal groups, and female victims of domestic violence). A loss of money or small restriction on one’s liberty will typically not be enough to trigger asylum status.

What Is the Difference Between Asylum and Refugee Status?

In short, if a person seeking sanctuary is already within the United States, but feels that they cannot return home without having their basic rights infringed, then they would apply for asylum status. Those who are living outside the United States, but meet the other eligibility requirements such as a reasonable fear of persecution, would apply for refugee status. Individuals who are granted asylum enjoy a wide range of rights, including the ability to live and earn money in the United States.

Who Is Eligible for Asylum?

Individuals can apply for asylum regardless of whether they are lawfully in the United States. In other words, an undocumented immigrant can still be eligible for political asylum. To apply for asylum, one must either request it at a port-of-entry when first entering the United States, or file an application within one year of arrival in the U.S.

In some cases, an individual may be eligible after a year in the United States, for example if circumstances have changed considerably in one’s home country, or extenuating circumstances made it impossible to file within a year of your arrival. In this situation, one still must file for asylum within a reasonable period of time after the extenuating circumstances have been lifted.

Application Procedure

To apply for asylum, one must fill out and file a USCIS Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. No fee is required to process the application.

Asylum interviews must be conducted within 60 days after an applicant files a claim, and the entire process typically takes around 180 days. If the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) asylum officer conducting the interview finds that the request cannot be granted, undocumented applicants will be referred for deportation proceedings before the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR).

An immigration judge will then review the case to determine whether the claim for political asylum is valid. If the Judge determines that it is not, the applicant may be issued an order of deportation. Because the stakes are so high, it is critical to contact an experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyer to protect your rights during the application procedure. Individuals who fail to keep their scheduled appointment for an asylum interview are immediately referred to the EOIR for deportation.

Travel Considerations

Those who are applying for asylum status are able to travel outside of the United States, but only with advance permission, called Advance Parole, if there is any intent to return. Once asylum status is granted, one can apply for a Refugee Travel Document, which allows an asylee or refugee to travel abroad and return to the United States.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at The Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Represent People Seeking Political Asylum

We proudly represent non-citizens seeking a better life in the United States. To schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. call us today at 215-496-0690 or contact us online. We strive to provide our clients with the highest quality legal representation for a full range of immigration issues.